Sounding Play: Acoustic Ecology of Sports and Games
The intimate silence of the tennis court interrupted by a player’s grunt; the focused listening of a double Dutch jumper with ropes that move too fast to see; the country music song playing in the pickup truck you stole in a video game; chanting with 40,000 other fans against the wrong call the referee’s whistle just signaled. Sound is an essential component of sports and games. Both as players and spectators, people engage in listening, chanting, speaking, noise-making, music-making, and even staying silent as part of an auditory ecology that is intimately tied with the immersion, flow, and ultimately, the success of the activity. In this class we will explore a series of case studies within the game-sport continuum that address important questions about gender, race, social experience, and the nature and potentials of participatory sound making. These will include chanting and crowd noise in stadium sports (soccer, football, tennis), double Dutch rope skipping, diegetic and non-diegetic music in open-world action games (Grand Theft Auto, Lord of the Rings Online), sound-driven designer board games (Space Alert, Escape: The Curse of the Temple), the sound crisis of motorsports (Formula 1 and Formula E), and music-rhythm games (Guitar Hero, Rock Band, and Dance Dance Revolution). Sound, ever present, becomes the basis for deep, intimate connections among and across players, gamers, and audiences.